After the successful, extended run at Rattlestick,
Jonathan Tolins’ acclaimed ensemble comedy, THE LAST SUNDAY IN JUNE
has moved slightly uptown for an open, off-Broadway run at the Century
Center. An ironic examination of what it means to be gay in a contemporary
context, viewed through the lens of what it means to be in a gay play, and
set during the annual Pride march in New York City, this witty piece is a
many-faceted take on the subject.
Following the release of Mr. Tolins’ play, THE
TWILIGHT OF THE GOLDS, there was controversy over his comments that it
was not a gay play, even though the thematic content included a couple who
consider aborting their child when pre-natal testing indicates that the
child will probably be born gay. Of course, this play, as the author
correctly pointed out, was about more than homosexuality, and he found
himself grappling with the definition of "gay" play. This real life
experience works its way into THE LAST SUNDAY IN JUNE as the source
of much comedic debate.
The characters, driven by the youthful enthusiasm of the
recently out Joe (David Turner) begin to imagine that they are the
characters in a gay play, and go on to delineate the required plot points,
et cetera. Way to stick it to your detractors, Mr. Tolins! There is no
better revenge than living well, or publicly deriding your critics in a
marketable and successful way. This aspect aside, the script does raise
issues of stereotypes, social structure, political changes and cultural
mores. The fact that we meet a group of men who unabashedly flirt with a
young, buff, shirtless visitor, is really, when you get down to it, not too
different than the more "mainstream" presentation of a bunch of endlessly
adolescent guys leering at scantily clad women.
What is also notable about this production of THE LAST
SUNDAY IN JUNE is the complete package presented. The themes presented
are essentially universal. There are protestations of the impossibility of
male fidelity, and the all too common defense that a purely sexual
indiscretion does not really mean anything. There are discussions about the
rules, and how they vary depending on looks, age and physical structure.
Most of all, there is an overwhelming desire to find the kind of
self-acceptance that allows one to fit in, find pleasure, and be happy too.
All of the design elements are on point, the actors fit
neatly into their roles, and the pacing is just right. An ensemble piece in
the best sense of the term, this is a bitingly self-aware play that
illuminates universal struggles, pounds in plenty of laughs, and does not
even attempt to answer those many unanswerable questions, THE LAST SUNDAY
IN JUNE is a smooth, giddy ride.
- Kessa De Santis -